The NFC South has done a nice job, I think, in upgrading its talent base. The Falcons have hit their needs, the Panthers have gone upside, and the Buccaneers and Saints have nicely balanced between those two poles in their classes thus far. Thankfully for Falcons fans, though, it hasn't all been roses.
The weirdest pick by a very wide margin was the Buccaneers' selection of kicker Roberto Aguayo in the second round, a selection made even odder when you consider that the Bucs swapped a third and fourth rounder to move up and get him. Even our friends at Bucs Nation can't quite pretend to be chipper about it.
I do think Aguayo is a terrific kicker, but he's going to have to be a borderline Hall of Famer to justify giving up two very solid picks to take him, and there's a reason you don't surrender a ton of assets to get even a great kicker. Kicker performance tends to fluctuate wildly from year to year, you're usually able to get a decent one off the free agent scrap heap, and the opportunity cost of going with a position that's involved in very few plays in the average game effectively burns through the Bucs' second, third, and fourth round picks in a year where almost everyone agrees they were drafting well with CB Vernon Hargreaves and DE Noah Spence. Just a baffling pick.
For the Panthers, it's more defensible. They need defensive backs badly and they're selecting players with upside that they feel can thrive in their scheme, and while I certainly don't love Daryl Worley and James Bradberry at corner, both are big, physical cornerbacks who should at least fit with what they're trying to do. Vernon Butler is just a terrific player, even if the Panthers are absolutely loaded on the interior of their defensive line. We're obviously giving that team more leeway because they were so successful last year, but you can see the outlines of the plan here.
New Orleans, unfortunately, has just drafted well. Sheldon Rankins is a potential beast on the interior, Michael Thomas is one of the better receivers in the draft class, and Vonn Bell is a solid, well-rounded safety selection at worst. They're undeniably better than they were, in much the same way the Falcons are undeniably better despite some questions about just how good their class is.
Tough to argue against the idea that the entire NFC South looks better on paper heading into 2016. Should be a fun one.